CAN WOMEN HAVE IT ALL?

Poon Li-Wei speaks to two ex­perts to dis­cover the pres­sures work­ing moth­ers face to­day and how it af­fects their well­be­ing.

Herworld (Malaysia) - - CONTENTS - Saw Jo Anne (J), lec­turer and clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist at Ji­wadamai Puveshini Rao (P), clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist at Rekin­dle Cen­tre for Sys­temic Ther­apy

Ex­perts and work­ing mums re­veal their thoughts and strate­gies.

IS THERE AN IN­CREAS­ING PRES­SURE FOR WOMEN TO ‘HAVE IT ALL’?

J: Yes. The pre-ex­ist­ing gen­der ex­pec­ta­tion and in­creas­ing de­mands on a woman’s role has be­come the mea­sure­ment for all women. This is be­cause the world has cre­ated an ex­pec­ta­tion where women are su­per­women, in that they have to per­form ev­ery sin­gle role per­fectly – whether it’s be­ing a daugh­ter, sis­ter, wife, mother, em­ployee, or friend.

P: It’s sub­jec­tive to the woman in ques­tion. Some women opt to not marry, some do; some choose not to have chil­dren, and vice versa. How­ever, when women choose to have all of the above, it can be over­whelm­ing for some.

DO THESE PRES­SURES HAVE NEG­A­TIVE EF­FECTS?

J: Women who feel they did not meet these ex­pec­ta­tions of­ten be­come over­whelmed and stressed – this can af­fect them phys­i­cally and psy­cho­log­i­cally. For the for­mer, it can in­di­rectly cause se­ri­ous health ill­nesses such as heart dis­ease, can­cer and gas­troin­testi­nal prob­lems. Mean­while, the lat­ter may be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to the Na­tional Health & Mor­bid­ity Sur­vey 2015 re­port that 30.8 per cent of adult women ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal health prob­lems in Malaysia.

P: The per­cep­tion of fail­ure – at not be­ing able to meet one or two ex­pec­ta­tions as of­ten as one would like – can cre­ate neg­a­tive ef­fects when it comes to how they view them­selves.

Em­pow­er­ment comes from within. It’s im­por­tant to re­alise that it is al­right to not have it all. It’s al­right to reach out and ask for help when needed. Women must chal­lenge and change their mind­set, so they can chal­lenge the un­re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions and pres­sures put on them. –SAW JOANNE

You are not in a com­pe­ti­tion with any­one. There is no such thing as ‘per­fect’. Search­ing for that per­fect life­style, chil­dren, fam­ily, and image can set us up for fail­ure and fur­ther pres­sure. – PUVESHINI RAO

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